In a recent survey of the Chinasmart watch market, ABI Research, finds that close to 67% of respondents plan to buy a smart watch in the next 12 months.
The heightened demand is due to the wide range of choices that local manufacturers offer consumers, as well as to the products' affordable pricing, good design, and comprehensive feature set. Additionally, some of the region's richest consumers consider branded smart watches, like the Apple Watch, to be a desired status symbol.
"Chinese consumers are most interested in smart watches that are not cumbersome but comfortable to wear and that clearly display phone call alerts and caller ID," says Marina Lu, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. "The manufacturers who are going to be most successful in this increasingly crowded and competitive landscape are those that focus on designing visually pleasing, easy-to-use interfaces."
In fact, the region's consumers care so much about look that, according to the survey, most believe a trendy appearance to be far more important than any voice or audio capabilities. Even the Huawei Watch tries to go glam, as evident through its collaboration with fashion company Swarovski, decorating its smart watch with crystal and rose gold. "Moving forward, ABI Research still believes that voice interaction will emerge as a trend, because integrating voice capabilities into a smaller screen could help fit more features in a smaller, fashionable package to improve the look and the interface significantly," continues Lu.
Smart payment, or ticketing functionality, is also a feature consumers find important. In China, Alibaba's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat currently dominate the mobile payment services market, holding shares of 48% and 20%, respectively. Given the potential size of the overall mobile payment market into account, ABI Research speculates that smart watches with this feature will be in high demand over the next few years.
Pricing structure, though, is where the smart watch market could see device divergence. According to the survey results, while 42% of respondents would spend between $150 and $310 on a smartwatch, 36% believe a reasonable price to be below $150, and 22% are likely to spend over $310. ABI Research finds China's average selling price for the smart watch to be around $166 in 2016, hitting the market at a sweet spot that partially explains Chinese consumers' strong desire to buy a smart watch. "It is likely that some consumers will gladly pay a higher price for a reputable and customized smart watch, but most will probably choose the cheaper options," concludes Lu.